Associations between low literacy and health status measures: Cross-sectional analyses of two physical activity trials

Anita A. Bhat, Darren A. Dewalt, Catherine R. Zimmer, Bruce J. Fried, Pavani Rangachari, Yoon Ho Seol, Leigh F. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Arthritis researchers have thoroughly documented a powerful relationship between years of education and health outcomes, but they have not documented the role of literacy. The authors examined the associations between literacy and arthritis health status measures. Participants were recruited from southeastern urban and rural areas. Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, which provides an estimate of reading level in less than 3 minutes, was administered to 447 participants at baseline in 2 community-based randomized controlled trials of lifestyle interventions designed for aging sedentary adults with arthritis. Those who read below ninth grade were considered to have low literacy. Among the 447 study participants, the median sample age was 69 years. A majority of the participants were women (86%), Caucasian (80%), overweight or obese (72%). Of all participants, 20% had low literacy. Significantly more African Americans (54%) than Caucasians (12%) had low literacy levels (p<.001). Individuals with low literacy did not have significantly worse disability or arthritis symptoms than individuals with adequate literacy (all ps>.05). Among our study participants, 1 in 5 had low literacy, but literacy was not associated with health status in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-245
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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